So hey, good timing, here comes a goal: improve my aerobic fitness so I can run faster with less effort. I already mentioned this briefly, that I'll be following the Maffetone Method to work towards my goal. And it starts now. I probably won't be posting much here as there won't be much to say, but I'll check in each month with the results of my latest Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) test. The idea is that you run a set distance once a month, and see how long it takes you to do it. If you're doing it right, you should see your times go down each month, while still working at the same heart rate as before. So for my MAF test I'll be doing a 5km (5 laps) course at the local sports complex, and then a day or two later I'll do a slightly-less-than-5km hilly trail course. I'll post both results here monthly. So without further ado, here is my baseline MAF test:
Sports Complex (5km) at 121-131bpm:
My normal pace for this 5km (regular jogging) is probably a 9:30- to 10-minute mile. At MAF I was expecting to run about a 13-minute pace, maybe a bit slower. As it turned out I ran a 14:37 pace! Wow. But on the positive side, it can only get better from here. Way better I hope. The hardest part was probably passing walkers as it felt like it took me about a minute to actually complete the maneuver! Okay, so let's see how MAF looks on the trails.
Bukit Padang Trails (2.83 miles) at 121-131bpm:
This route normally takes me around 40-45 minutes, walking up most of the hills and running everything else. So this was about as slow as I would have guessed. But it was much more enjoyable than the sports complex. I could see myself doing this more often. I also felt a bit more in tune with my heart rate and could (usually) alter my pace before my HR monitor started beeping that I was too low or high.
So now I will spend my days running for 30 minutes, 60 minutes, maybe an occasional long run, entirely at or below my training heart rate of 131bpm. I won't be keeping track of my mileage, only time. If I tracked my mileage, I would then know my day-to-day pace and might get a bit obsessive over any minor improvements or setbacks in my training. Once a month is good enough for keeping track. Blogging will therefore also be light, so arm your feed reader if you want to follow my progress!
At the same time, I have a second goal. I'll be working on increasing my barefoot running mileage, following the 12-week training plan in the excellent book Barefoot Running by Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee. It'll involve running 2 or 3 times a week barefoot, increasing my mileage (and types of terrain) slowly over the course of the 12 weeks. I'm looking forward to improving my foot strength which will help ward off the typical running injuries that are caused by wearing shoes. You know the ones. More on my barefoot training later.